EasyJet's GDS Strategy Removes 'Last Barrier' to Corporate Market

EasyJet today said it signed distribution deals with Amadeus and Travelport's Galileo to tap into "the $90 billion European corporate travel market" and "grow its proportion of business passengers, currently around 20 percent, through the managed business travel segment."

EasyJet's global distribution participation announcement is the latest from a high-profile "low-cost carrier," following JetBlue Airways' and Southwest Airlines' decisions to list their fares and inventories in those systems.

EasyJet said the two GDSs "separately delivered new technology" to connect with easyJet's inventory. The Amadeus "tailor-made solution ... connects the GDS directly to the inventory of ticketless carriers" and integrates that inventory into agents' "regular work process," according to a statement by Amadeus executive vice president David Jones. EasyJet said Amadeus is piloting the functionality through November in Germany, France, Spain and the United Kingdom, followed by a "worldwide" rollout.

A statement by Travelport GDS EMEA managing director Bryan Conway said Galileo would include easyJet services "directly into our core GDS." EasyJet expects Galileo to offer its content to U.K. agencies by year-end, and to subscribers in the rest of Europe in 2008.

EasyJet said it would apply "a point-of-sale fee" on travel agency bookings through Amadeus and Galileo--similar to reservations made through such other "non-Internet" channels as telephone call centers and airport counters--to "ensure" its Web site offers the cheapest fares. Nevertheless, the carrier's GDS strategy removes "the last barrier to the corporate travel market," said easyJet CEO Andy Harrison.

EasyJet in 2005 announced plans for Web-based bookings by Business Travel International via an application programming interface. But that development did not come to fruition before BTI split into BCD Travel and HRG in early 2006.

David Herrick, head of American Express Business Travel in Europe, last month told The Beat that Amex and easyJet were not exploring any similar links. "Would they want to work something out for just one TMC? I am not sure," he said. "If I was an easyJet, I probably would not want to deal with just one. If I am going to get into this, I am not going to tie myself down to limited distribution. From all the things they are doing, they clearly want to play in a bigger space."